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Economy 'trapped in low skills equilibrium'

Northern Ireland is trapped in a low-skills and low-paid work "equilibrium", according to a new report.

According to the latest quarterly survey by the Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI), a "lack of skilled workers has long been considered one of the central weaknesses of the NI economy".

"The proportion of people with no qualifications in NI is almost double that of GB," it says.

But it says that a lack of demand for skills is "of equal concern".

"Furthermore, it is argued that the underperformance in the supply of skills is likely driven by a lack of demand for skills and vice versa."

"The issue of skills has been central to discussions of the Northern Ireland economy for many years," NERI senior economist Paul Mac Flynn said.

"However, we need to focus as much on the demand for skills as we do on the supply. We need a change in economic policy which seeks to co-ordinate the efforts of firms and workers in order to free the economy from its current predicament."

Speaking about the Northern Ireland economy generally, the report said it shrank by 1% in the second quarter of 2017, according to the Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index (NICEI).